Save time and money with some of these tried and tested tips for finding cheap airfares.
Even already low-cost airlines have cheaper-still deals. Sign up for e-newsletters and sales alerts, because you need to know just when the sales start. The cheapest fares and best times to fly sell out quickly.
While you’re at it, sign up for (free) frequent flyer clubs, which also have deals and perks. If you have to pay to join, do the sums first.
Find regular days for deals
As well as one-off and seasonal sales, some airlines have regular deal days.
For example, Tigerair has Tiger Tuesdays (midday Tuesday to midday Wednesday). Jetstar has Friday Fare Frenzy (midday-8pm) and Virgin Australia has Thursday Happy Hour (actually so happy it lasts seven hours, 4-11pm). You’ll see mega deals (Tigerair Sydney to Brisbane $9 one-way) as well as excellent cheap deals.
Watch out for flash sales
These can be random two-hour or one-day sales, plus two-for-one offers and $1 return. Qantas regularly has Companion sales (buy two tickets and get a heavy discount on both). Virgin always has discounted domestic Book Early Fares.
If you don’t want to register with multiple airlines, there are aggregators such as iknowthepilot.com.au, for domestic and international fares.
There are so many deals you’ll be sick of your phone pinging, but you’ll also be amazed by what’s on offer. (Really – Melbourne to Hawaii $299 return; Sydney to New York $908 return).
Use comparison sites
On Webjet’s Deal Finder, you can see a full range of flight times and airlines. Fly a little earlier or later for maximum savings. For international flights, you can compare length of trip, stops/stopovers – and prices, of course.
Use Skyscanner’s Best Time to Book tool to find the optimal weeks in advance to book for Australia’s favourite holiday destinations (May seems to be the cheapest month to fly anywhere).
Skyscanner senior manager Michael Grierson said the booking tool had recently been enhanced “to include more routes than ever”. You can also choose the whole month when looking for the cheapest day to fly.
Register for price watch
Fill in your destination and travel dates and get updates when prices drop on various travel websites that offer a “price watch” option.
Early bird fares to Europe are usually released about September for summer in Europe the following year, with substantial savings.
A stopover for a few hours or even overnight, often in Asia, can mean definite savings. You might find yourself in Auckland, Chengdu, Manila or Kuala Lumpur for a few hours or more, but you can also make major savings.
Luxury Escapes has recently added flights to its offerings and head of communications Peter Taylor had some tips for would-be travellers.
“Consider flying out of a different city,” he said. “You’ll sometimes see a notable difference in the price of flights departing from Sydney compared to Brisbane. A quick stopover in Brisbane could mean some extra spending money.”
Think about flying into a different destination
This could be Amsterdam instead of Paris, Milan instead of Rome. Less in-demand cities might have cheaper fares and similar convenience.
Book a tour
Book in advance for a cruise or a land tour and a flight might be included or heavily discounted.
Watch for new routes
When airlines start on a new route, they often have special introductory prices.
Consider one-way tickets
Two single fares can be less than a return ticket. You can also fly in and out of different cities.
Try super-cheap low-cost airlines
Many of these have upped their game. Scoot’s all-new fleet flies medium to long haul, is part of the Singapore Airlines group and has some crazy-cheap fares. The Scoot app shows prices every day for a month, so you can choose a cheaper day. Remember, all you get is the seat – you have to pay for everything else.
Seriously though, with specials like Perth to Athens for about $600 return, you can afford to fork out for a meal.
AirAsia is another award-winning, low-cost airline with an impressive Asian network.
And, final call for flights …
If you can’t plan ahead, check out lastminute.com.au for drop-everything-and-go deals.